GDB 56.0: Will the Oilers Measure Up? (7pm MT, SNW)

Photo credit:Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
9 months ago
The New York Rangers are rolling. They’ve won six in a row and are 13-2-2 in their last 17 games. They had the 14th most points in the NHL on New Year’s Eve, and today they sit with the sixth most, only three points back of third place New Jersey.
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The Rangers have been solid at both ends of the rink. They are third in goals/game at 3.88 and have allowed the third fewest goals against/game at 2.53. The Oilers have the fifth best record since January 1st and have averaged the most goals/game at 4.06. They sit 13th in goals against/game at 3.00. Edmonton has played well, but not as well as the Rangers. A regulation loss to Montreal and OT/SO losses to Detroit, Columbus and Philadelphia in their last seven games has put a damper on their recent hot streak.
While the Rangers (72 pts) are battling New Jersey (75) for second place and home ice advantage in the Metropolitain division, the Oilers (66 points) are in a dogfight in the Pacific trailing Vegas (70), Seattle (68) and Los Angeles (67). Tonight’s tilt is meaningful for both teams, and after a stretch of eight consecutive games v. non-playoff teams, the Oilers will see how they measure up against the league’s hottest squad.
“They are a good team who has been playing well,” said Tyson Barrie. “They have added Vladdy (Tarasenko), and we will have to be sharp tonight. It will be a good test for us to see where we are at against a good team.”
There are no easy games in the NHL, but there is a difference between playing a top team than a bottom one. The Rangers are rolling — they have three lines producing right now, a solid defence core and an elite goaltender. But according to veteran Chris Kreider, it has taken some time for them to find their game.
“I don’t think we had a good start to the season,” said Kreider. “We were finding ways to lose, and we didn’t like our process at times, but we have been better in that regard lately and we are looking to continue to grow and develop and get better over the stretch run. There are some things we can focus on and get better at.”
The first period could play a major factor in the outcome of the game. In 2023, the Oilers are 8-1-1 when leading after 20 minutes and the Rangers are 8-0-1. The Oilers are 1-2-3 when trailing after the first while the Rangers are 1-1-1. A lead after 20 would seemingly be quite beneficial for either team.

Local Company Goes to the Big Apple

Kreider and six or seven other New York Rangers have used a new training system called Roket Gear this year. Roket Gear is an innovative weighted training product that allows hockey players to increase their speed and skill while practicing their skills. Roket Gear is an Edmonton-based company started by Doctor Niz Saad and Eddie Halabi. Former Oiler, Fernando Pisani joined their group a few months ago. It is great to see an Edmonton company doing well. It isn’t just for NHL players; it is for all ages and abilities. NHL players like it for off-season training, but also in-season maintenance and for those returning from injury.
I asked Kreider why he uses them. “It was something our skills coach (Mark Ciaccio) suggested,” said Kreider. “He was using it with a couple other guys, and I was curious. I was able to put them on for a couple of skates when I was banged up. It is a really cool product. A lot of people have messed around with a weighted puck, weighted stick, a weighted vest, but what they (Roket Gear) have been able to do is take a deep dive into the science and physics behind it. The weight distribution doesn’t put any unwanted stress on the groins or hips. The weight is distributed really well.
“Especially when you are trying to do some edge work it really accentuates an opportunity to improve your balance. When you have a bit of added weight around your shin, I found that a cut you make, or a cut back you might be able to get away with, you are now off-balance, and you get stuck in the mud. It really seems to highlight those little deficiencies, little things you might not notice when you are doing over speed work. I was able to use it for small area conditioning stuff and I really liked it. It is something I’m going to work with again in-season when I get an opportunity, and definitely in the off-season,” said Kreider.
Kreider pays a lot of attention to skating mechanics and the skates. We had a fascinating conversation after our interview about his views on skates, what works for him and what doesn’t. He said while some players really focus on their sticks, his focus is his skates. He talked about how he had to change his stride and edge work, due to the softer ice in the NHL compared to the rinks he grew up playing on. I wish I had it on camera, as he did a fantastic job of describing the different angles he takes when entering his cuts now.
He also spoke about how he grew six inches during his first year of college and that forced him to alter his stride. He isn’t a huge believer in natural skating ability. He said there are a few exceptions, but he believes a strong focus on edge work, weight distribution, ankle flexion and other factors are huge to becoming a great skater. He ravved about McDavid’s edge work, and his ability to almost skate faster with the puck than without. He is really interested in skating mechanics and was quite excited to see what else he can do with his skating/skills coach in the summer with Roket Gear. (I will play the full interview on TSN 1260 today).




RNH – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Foegele – Mcleod – Janmark
Kostin – Ryan – Puljujarvi
Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Barrie
Broberg – Bouchard
Warren Foegele finished last game with Leon Draisaitl and Evander Kane, so he and Kailer Yamamoto could swap spots. These lines are based on last game and the addition of Yamamoto to the lineup, while Dylan Holloway comes out.


Kreider – Zibanejad – Tarasenko
Panarin – Trochek – Vesey
Lafreniere – Chytil – Kakko
Goodrow – Leschyshyn- Gauthier
Lindgren – Fox
Miller – Trouba
Mikkola – Schneider
Filip Chytil has eight goals at 5×5 over the last 17 games, which ties him with Artemi Panarin for the team lead. The Rangers’ top three lines are all producing and Edmonton will need much better puck management tonight than they had v. the Red Wings. They need to reduce their unforced errors.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers home struggles continue. They lose 3-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid picks up his 100th point of the season in the first period.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Evan Bouchard scores his first goal in 35 games.

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